Dear Diary

As easy as it is to get lost in sugar cookie-baking and gift shopping, it’s really important to remember what this time of year is really supposed to be about: giving.

A few years ago in early Spring someone forwarded me a link to a reddit article about two beagles that were set to be put down if a foster parent in Toronto didn’t come forward. Without even thinking I sent a panicked email riddled with all caps to the rescue contact explaining I had a lot of experience with dogs and was eager to help. I heard back a few days later that the beagles in question had successfully found homes, but that there were a massive number of other dogs who still needed a place to go on-route to their forever families. I explained I was still eager to help, and about a week later Honey arrived in a crate at my apartment.

For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting my pup, here’s a bit about her. Honey is the perfect size, has a lovely soft cinnamon coat and big pleading eyes. She never makes a sound, loves to cuddle, and when she isn’t sleeping (her usual state) her tail is constantly wagging. She loves kids, cats, other dogs, and every human she’s ever come across, and most importantly, she’s my best friend. When the weather turns cold she’s my little spoon, and when the summer rolls around we can be found running all over the city together sharing ice cream cones and basking in the sun at the park. Though I wasn’t particularly ready for a dog, and didn’t originally expect to keep her for more than a few weeks as a foster parent, I can’t imagine where I’d be without her.

The crazy thing is, without the rescue and a foster mom Honey wouldn’t be here at all. She’d be one of millions of amazing dogs who are put down in high-kill shelters every year. To be blunt, she’d be dead.

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Pet overpopulation and abandonment is a massive issue worldwide- did you know that a shelter dog is put down every 11 seconds in the USA alone? I’ve written about my feelings on buying pets over adopting before, but this time I have a favor to ask you: in the name of the Christmas spirit, do what you can to help this holiday season. That’s where Save our Scruff (aka SOS) comes in!

A Toronto based-rescue organization, SOS doesn’t discriminate between breeds or age. To them, “a dog in need is a dog in need”, even if that means transporting dogs from Egypt or taking on massive vet bills. Without organizations like them, so many wonderful pups just like Honey wouldn’t have a home this Christmas. At best they’d be wandering the streets or living in a cement cell, at worst they’d fall victim to euthanization or mass exterminations.

Adopting instead of shopping is a fantastic way to help save pup lives and reduce the overpopulation issue humans have created when it comes to animal breeding, but it’s not the only way if you can’t fully commit to a new family member this year. Save Our Scruff is in constant need of transport volunteers, foster parents, and donations to fund all of the amazing work they’re doing to help give these dogs a chance at a happy life.

For my birthday this past year a very dear friend gave me a donation to Save our Scruff instead of a gift, and it really meant so much more to me than any of the material objects I had received. That gift has inspired me to partner up with Save Our Scruff this Christmas, and I’ve decided to donate $2 for every donation you guys are able to make until December 26th. That’s right- just comment on a post, shoot me a DM, tweet me, comment here or simply send me an email at alyssa@randomactsofpastel.com letting me know that you’ve made a donation, and we’ll automatically up our company donation by $2. I know it’s cliche, but no amount is too small, every bit helps, and at the end of the day every single stray or abandoned dog out there deserves a home for the holidays. So what are you waiting for? Let’s make it happen!!!

To make a donation, click here (and don’t forget to let me know!)
To learn more about fostering and volunteering click here.

In the market for a new fur baby? Take a look at some of SOS’s adoptable pups (a few of whom we were able to capture in our pastel wonderland with photographer Jill Botting!)

Keep scrolling for more puppy cuteness…

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Photos by Jill Botting

Oh so Pretty

And so it begins- the long line of pastel gift guides I’ve been crafting for months is finally here! I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas fit for every pastel princess (and prince) on your list, but I thought it made sense to start with one of my favourite themed categories: beauty!

I don’t know how many of you have been watching Birchbox rapidly expand into a massive curated beauty destination over the past two years, but from their incredible NYC brick and mortar shop opening to their launch in Canada it’s been a pretty exciting brand be involved with. I had the pleasure of helping the Birchbox team decorate for a magical event a few months ago, and you’ll notice a whole bunch of collaborative products with them over the holiday season here at RAOP.

I truly love making wish lists and gift shopping no matter what the season, but nothing rivals the joy of curating gift picks for Christmas morning. Here are some of my favourite finds from Birchbox’s awesome new Canadian online shop (don’t worry USA, you can still shop everything too!)

1// Not Soap, Radio Body Wash

Bubble bath is one of those products that no one can ever have enough of (like candles, or wine). I’m a massive sucker for good branding, and Not Soap, Radio had me at first glance, despite my confusion over their mysterious name. Created by two sisters who used to make soap concoctions in the bath together growing up (SO cute), this line can be used as both shower gel and bubble bath, and the clever names and descriptions are so fun to read.

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2// BKR Heart Water Bottle

It’s extremely important to stay hydrated over the holiday season, and by that I mean it’s important to be sipping a fancy cocktail or champagne at all times. BKR’s glass water bottles are an absolute staple when it comes to cute beverage transportation, and when you decide to smarten up and get healthy in the new year this little guy will be your best friend (if you actually start using it for water that is!)

3// Davines OI Oil

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it 100 times again: this stuff is GOLD. Anyone and everyone with hair should own this product- it smells amazing and leaves even the most damaged locks shiny and silky smooth. Buy your mom a bottle, buy your bestie a bottle, buy your boyfriend a bottle… and make sure you scoop one up for yourself while you’re at it!

4// Cynthia Rowley Liquid Liner

Liquid liner is a staple in my makeup bag, and I can’t think of a better excuse to perfect your cat eye skills than over the month holiday parties. Exclusive to Birchbox, this Cynthia Rowley liner pen is super easy to use, stays put no matter how much sweaty dancing you do, and it’s oh so festive too!

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5// Ban.do Flash Bobbi Set

Tis the season for sparkle! A super simple way to add a bit of glitter to any hairstyle, these colourful clips will have you sparklin’ around the Christmas tree all year long.

6// Birchbox Subscription

You know what no one hates? Receiving Mail! Nothing beats the rush of finding a package waiting outside your door, especially one filled with surprise treats and unexpected finds. Birchbox got started as a monthly beauty sample delivery service, and their still the best in the business. Why not treat your friends and loved ones to the gift that keeps on giving?

Birchbox – The Box is Monthly, the Beauty & Grooming Possibilities are Endless! Sign up for just $10/month.

Dear Diary

Merry Christmas week everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been around as much lately- I’ve been going through a lot of big changes over the past couple of months, and though I have a lot to say about all of that, I’m going to try and keep things as on-subject as possible today.

Well, to be upfront, I’ve somehow ended up with a boyfriend for Christmas.

As you know I try not to get too personal around here, but it feels odd not to share such a big part of my life with all of you, especially when it’s something that I’m so excited about going into the new year. I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, and to say I’ve fallen head over glittery heels is an understatement. I don’t want to get too detailed, but it suffices to say that I’m really, truly happy, and though I learned a lot from my breakup and being single, I think this new relationship is exactly what I needed to get my sparkle back.

Of course as a huge Christmas lover, finding romance just in time for the holiday season is a total dream come true, and my December has been spent cuddled up watching “The Holiday” with hot apple cider, and Christmas shopping hand in hand. The best part? I got a last-minute chance to gather all sorts of wonderful boy gifts, which happens to be my absolute favourite thing to shop for. Though my beau won’t be getting a peek until Christmas day, I figured I’d share some of my favourite items here with you in case you’re still on the hunt for your handsome partner!

scroll down to find the guide!

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In order of appearance from top to bottom, right to left:

Nike Tech Fleece Sweats and Roshe Run Sneaker Boot // When I hopped onto the mystery bus for the Project North trip my first thought was “Omg those boy outfits are way too good!” Seriously, this sweatshirt/sweat pant combo is the perfect gift for your partner, if only because you’ll definitely steal it to wear yourself sooner or later, and don’t even get me started on the fleece lined sneaker boots.

Richer Poorer inc. socks and boxer briefs // I’m a huge fan of Richer Poorer, and I seriously might have to buy their awesome socks for everyone at every special occasion from now until the end of time.

Commodity Goods Gin Cologne // I’m crazy about cologne, but Commodity Goods makes scent shopping so easy that even the most fragrance-phobic folks could find a perfect fit. Offering adorable sampler packs in case your partner is extra picky, Commodity is truly the best brand for scent gifting. If you’re feeling super confident, splurge on a full size bottle of Gin, Whisky, or Book– all three are irresistibly good!

Linneas Lights candle in “Vetiver” // There’s nothing more attractive than dating someone who not only smells good, but knows how to make their house smell fancy too. I’m a huge devotee to Vetiver, and Linneas Lights’ rich earthy take is the perfect fragrance to spice up a living space.

Muttonhead Toque // Designed and crafted right here in Toronto, Muttonhead is a unisex local brand with a super cute shop near my house and endless amazing gift ideas. I actually own this toque and I can safely say it will make anyone on your list warm and cozy.

Raised by Wolves Trap Life Tee // Another local brand, Raised by Wolves has that handsome woodsy Canadian thing down, and this holiday Trap Life print is so Canadian in the best possible way.

Ursa Major Trailside Candle and Traveller’s Skin Care Kit // I love Ursa Major’s all natural take on skincare, and their swoon-worthy packaging doesn’t hurt either.

Questions? Thoughts? Confusions? Let me know what you’re thinking in the comments and I’ll do my best to get back to you! 

*Note: Some or all of the items featured in this post were given to me as a gift from the maker, but I only write about products I genuinely adore, I promise!*